Former soccer pro becomes a rabbi: The story of Snir Gueta

Snir Gueta realized he was not on the right track as a Jew.

September 22, 2019 23:32
1 minute read.
Former soccer pro becomes a rabbi: The story of Snir Gueta

LIOR REFAELOV (9) has firmly planted himself in the conversation of the best Israeli soccer player to have a sustained career in Europe. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Rabbi Snir Gueta went from being an under-21 group player to being a rabbi teaching prominent soccer players Torah. The now 31-year-old former midfielder recalls his personal journey, and suggests that playing soccer only on weekdays, instead of also on Shabbat, will actually increase the number of soccer stars in Israel.

Starting in Maccabi Haifa’s youth department, he played for Maccabi Netanya and for Israel’s national Under-21 team. Today, Gueta is considered by the younger generation to be one of the most recognized rabbis in Israel.

Seven years ago, the promising midfielder retired from soccer, partly due to the conflict of competing in games on Shabbat. His new religious beliefs took precedence, and he gave up the sport he loved in order to follow the Halacha surrounding Shabbat observance.

Gueta had reached a crossroads.

“It was a very long process,” he said. “I realized that I was not on the right track as a Jew.”

Rather than wait to finish his soccer career at 35 before seeking his spiritual path, Gueta chose to follow his heart. Today he is a married father of three.

“In the last year of my career, I had plenty of offers from soccer clubs, but I made the decision to retire. I salute my wife – without her, it would have been more difficult to make the decision; she would have been willing to go anywhere with me.”

Though there were lots of sacrifices, financial among them, Gueta explains, but “I’m not missing anything... When football games are scheduled on a Saturday, it automatically keeps a large religious fan base away from the sport. Who knows, maybe a few more soccer stars are hiding in the religious sector – and it’s not worth losing them,” he said.

He has so many requests for his assistance and teaching demands that he has taken on an assistant. It is common to see yeshiva students sitting alongside soccer players in his classes.

“Struggling with the modern balance of today’s personal and professional lives, these motivational speeches help us to gain clarity,” the rabbi said.

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